Friday, August 22, 2014

Jimmie Johnson Foundation Cane Creek Triathlon

Besides having one of the longest names of any triathlons I have had the great pleasure to participate in, this race was loaded with talent, intrigue and possibilities.  Besides taking place in the bustling North Carolina metropolis of Waxhaw, it was set to start at 6pm on a Tuesday evening.

It is not often one gets to participate in a triathlon (a real one) on a Tuesday.  It's not often that triathlon is also at 6pm.  So combining those two things, a beach start and the promise of shaking babies and kissing hands with some of the biggest motorsport names in the area was just too much for little old me.

At the CMS TT last week I got the chance to talk to Derek and he said he was going to race as well. So this meant we'd get to throw down again after going 1-1 at Stumpy Creek and Challenge NA.  The Big German was signed up as well as Zack Capets so I figured there'd be some good competition even on a Tuesday night race.

The day of the race dawned bright and relatively early and after most (most?) of a workday I made my way down to Cane Creek Park, which takes approximately forever to get to no matter where you are coming from (unless, by some awful coincidence, you LIVE down there! Sorry Starkey and Fletch).

It rained virtually the entire drive and while setting up it continued to rain.  Luckily, by the time the race started it had been clear and dry for about an hour which meant that the roads were, for the most part, dry.  This is a good thing as it means

1) Not unsafe
2) I don't have to clean my bike

I got to say hello to various people doing the race that I've gotten to know and got in the way of some of the shots the videographers were taking of Jimmie, who racked next to me.

He's won some stuff too
Actually, he was in transition first but I put my bike next to his just to make sure everyone saw how much better looking a Cervelo P5 is when compared to a Trek Speed Concept 9 series ;)

Obligatory Side Shot (OSS)
 I got to speak a little bit with Josh Wise, who did Ironman Cozumel last year (really well) and had just done a 4:40 at Racine 70.3 a month or so prior.  He has become quite internet famous lately through his sponsorship via Reddit and Dogecoin.  I am probably not getting the "chain of events" correctly but that is probably because I am bad at sponsorship searches and I don't quite understand cryptocurrency.

Unfortunately I don't have any candid shots of myself from pro photogs
Landon Cassil was also in attendance and doing his second ride (total) on his brand new bike, the Cervelo P5. In spite of having the most casually swiped aside haircut Landon is pretty fast and has a great position on his new bike.  In time, perhaps the student will become the master.  In the meantime, however, I will let him continue to drive his Sprint Cup car with little to no input from me on going fast in that realm.

Google image search is an amazing engine
After making my way to the front of the start line (beach mass start) the horn sounded and we took off like a shot.

Swim - 6:55 - 2nd

I knew Derek was going to go full gas and try and drop me with that extra swimmer gear he has. What I did not realize, however, was how much FASTER a guy to my right was going to take it out.  This guy had like a 10 yard gap in the first 10 yards.  It was pretty impressive.  Unfortunately for him, by the time we rounded the first buoy I was slapping him all over the place before moving around him to latch onto Derek's feet, who came past on my left.  That guy blew up, REALLY HARD.  Oh well.  Through the middle section I was able to stick on Derek's feet but by the time we rounded the last buoy he was putting some gap on me and I exited the water about 10 yards back.

T1 - :24.5

T1 was a pretty long run up a hill to a parking lot (I think the timing mat must have been past the beach due to how short T1's time was and how long the swim's time was) but both Derek and I made our way through it expeditiously.

Bike - 31:01 - 1st

Derek got out a wee bit ahead of me but I passed him as he was getting into his shoes.  Fortunately for me, Derek let me lead him a bit as we made our way around the rolling hills of southern NC.  He came past as we were going up a hill about 5 minutes (ish) into the ride.  I felt strong today, however, so unlike Stumpy Creek I did not "let" him get away from me.

For the next 20 or so minutes we made some turns, attacked some hill, and turtled some flat sections as we plowed our way through the bike course.

I decided to pass Derek on a downhill, which is a bit silly but it seemed to be the place where I was most at an advantage over him.  What I did not realize, however, is that right after I passed him there was a right turn back onto Harkey Rd to signal the last 2 minutes of the bike course.  D'oh! I made my way up the climb and hopped off the bike (after bunny hopping two prodigious speed bumps) and made my way back into transition just ahead of Derek.

T2 - :19.6

I had a quick T2 and got out on the run course just ahead of the comp.

Run - 18:25 - 2nd

I headed out on the run at a good pace and it wasn't until the first turnaround (there were two turnarounds per lap and there were two laps) that I got a chance to see how much time I had on Derek.  It wasn't much, so I kept on pushing. Along the way I saw Steve Hall in 3rd, Binny chasing in 4th (on Ironman Legs), and then Chad sandwiched in between Josh and Jimmie (Nascar drivers apparently make for good athletes, in contradiction to the rumors).  I felt good throughout the first lap and continued on pace through the second. It was fun coming through transition area over 4 times throughout the run course as it made it a bit more interesting from a spectator standpoint.  Unfortunately for the Nascar drivers, however, there were multiple right-hand turns which meant that for each one they had to make 3 lefts.  It slowed them down some, I am sure.

Derek did not slow down, however, so I was forced to continue pushing throughout the second lap crossing the line with a relatively narrow margin of victory over DeKidwell.

Overall I finished in 57:05 to Derek's 57:42 and really enjoyed the race.  There was obviously more "attention" on this race due to the involvement of the JJF, JJ himself and his high profile driver/racer/crew buddies.  It was definitely pretty cool to see them get involved in the community itself.  Unfortunately for them, they don't get the chance to race particularly often (in triathlons) due to the fact that they have no off-weekends.

Hopefully this type of race can take hold but if it was something other than JFF I might be skeptical of its ability to draw a crowd.  Over 100 participants raced, which is definitely impressive considering the location and the timing.  Plus, the prizes were outstanding. Without going into too much detail, let's just say that the winners got loaded up pretty nicely and the category podiums did well also. Danielle and I also got the opportunity to spray champagne everywhere which is not something that happens often when you are a triathlete at a local race.  JJ himself even posted an instagram video on his own page on instagram AND on Facebook! Wow, the fame!!!

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